Anselm on Freedom by Katherin Rogers

By Katherin Rogers

Can humans be loose and in charge if there's a God? Anselm of Canterbury, the 1st Christian thinker to suggest that people have a truly powerful unfastened will, bargains possible solutions to questions that have plagued spiritual humans for no less than thousand years: If divine grace can't be merited and is critical to save lots of fallen humanity, how can there be any decisive position for person unfastened option to play? If God is familiar with at the present time what you will decide upon the next day to come, then whilst day after today comes you should decide upon what God foreknew, so how can your selection be loose? If humans should have the choice to select from stable and evil that allows you to be morally dependable, needs to God manage to pick out evil? Anselm solutions those questions with a cosmopolitan conception of unfastened will which defends either human freedom and the sovereignty and goodness of God.

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You say, certainly it begins to be, but it does not have any source. ’ Moreover, if the choice to sin is uncaused it seems as if sin is something that just happens to the agent without him genuinely willing it. ²⁶ These later works express a compatibilist doctrine of free will. Does this constitute a radically different position from that held by the early Augustine? Augustine himself, in his Retractationes, written in 426/427, points to a change in his views on free will. As mentioned above, he discusses how in Ad Simplicianum, written in the mid-390s, he had tried to solve the question of Jacob’s pre-natal election over Esau, ‘.

I label this doctrine ‘Calvinist’ because Calvin was willing to spell it out explicitly; Institutes Book I, ch. 17, pts. 1–5. I take it that anyone who holds that God is the cause of all, including all creaturely choices, must say that God willingly causes choices which He has commanded the agents not to make. 42. ²⁴ But then an agent cannot really be held morally responsible for the uncaused event that occurs within him. ²⁵ But Julian goes on to hold that freedom, even as it exists in man after the Fall, is the ability to choose well or badly, with no pre-existent causal factors determining the choice.

And so, according to Anselm, it is literally logically impossible that God should will wickedness, or should cause one of his creatures to will it. We shall spend a great deal of time unpacking these points later, but here at the beginning it will be helpful to offer a brief introduction to the problem of evil in the universe of traditional, classical theism. ’ Contemporary philosophers of religion have tended to focus on the former question, but to traditional, classical theists like Anselm it is the latter question that is the more puzzling.

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